Connecting with others is vital to mental and physical health. This probably seems like a no-brainer, as most of us feel good when we’re around family and friends. But as modern life has become more demanding and many companies have transitioned to remote work, some of us are missing vital components of community at our jobs.
Research shows that workplace community matters tremendously: A University of British Columbia study found that being ostracized at work leads to job dissatisfaction, quitting and health problems more often than bullying and harassment.
Here are eight ways you — no matter your role or office setting — can contribute to a strong work community.
If you’re an individual contributor, you may feel there’s not much you can do about the larger community at work. But it’s important to follow the same rule you would in many other areas of life: Control what you can and put your best foot forward in those spaces. Just as a garden grows one plant at a time, community sprouts from one-on-one interactions. The way you speak to each of your coworkers is reflected on a larger scale, even if no one else witnesses those individual conversations.
If you work in a large organization, your work interactions may be limited to a small team. In the same way that individual conversations add to a larger sense of community, each team’s strength can promote better collaboration with other teams. To support this bridge-building, offer up ideas and help out your team members when they need it. When your team is already strong and communicating well, your cross-departmental interactions will be more impactful.
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In school, you probably found out that whenever you had the courage to ask a burning question, someone else would jump in and say they were thinking the same thing. That pattern continues in the workplace. Especially when you’re in a meeting and something is unclear, speaking up can help avoid collective confusion later. And, even more importantly, your willingness to put yourself out there encourages the same kind of vulnerability from your colleagues.
We all hope we won’t encounter conflict at work, but it happens. And an otherwise minor conflict can breed mistrust, disorder and gossip — which can be toxic to a community. If you need to have a difficult conversation, think of it as a chance to model the way you’d want someone else to approach you. The best communities learn to get through hard things together and tend to come out stronger on the other side.
Events and team-building activities may not be for everyone, but there’s reason to participate anyway. Coming together with your coworkers in new and unexpected ways can help you learn more about them and build mutual loyalty and a sense of caring. You don’t have to be the first to jump in every time, but getting involved in events (or even suggesting them) could be helpful for company morale and, ultimately, boost efficiency and productivity.
You don’t need to be best friends with your coworkers, but there may be times when they need a bit of extra support or encouragement. Showing up with compassion and remembering that we’re all human can go a long way. If you know a team member is experiencing a tough time at home, offer to take over a task or two to lighten their load. Or, if they’re frustrated with a big project, ask how you can support them. Your seemingly minor gestures could be just what they need — and just the thing to further enhance your organization’s community.
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Divisiveness can destroy a community. Chances are, you won’t agree with every decision your leaders make or every new team protocol they implement. However, every community needs decisive leaders to keep things moving. Proceeding as a unit is essential to keeping your team and organization functioning well and supporting each other. Keep the end in mind as you uphold your responsibilities: There is a greater purpose to what you’re doing, even if you can’t see it yet.
No effort at community-building will be fruitful if people aren’t talking to each other. Internal communication should act as a foundation for a work community. Silos and bottlenecks can be harmful and cause unnecessary frustration, breaking down the bonds you’re working to build. Bring workflow-related problems to your leaders’ attention and present ideas for more cohesive processes to prevent a communication collapse.
Your sense of community could be even stronger with a powerful client work management solution like Accelo supporting your team’s visibility and communication. Encourage decision-makers to start a free trial or schedule a demo to learn more.